9 Tips That Will Make Traveling This Christmas Less Stressful

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When the holidays don't come to you, you're stuck with an intense travel itinerary that's got the weight of your entire family's expectations resting on your shoulders. Taking the time to consider some Christmas travel tips before you make any plans is a non-negotiable step this holiday season. The difference between a well-planned holiday travel trip and a last-minute holiday travel trip is a breeze and a hurricane. That's why I've rounded up a few things to keep in mind before you even purchase a ticket. Hint: do not skim this list! Each item is crucial!

With all of the deals and short cuts that surface this time of year, it's important to have a good eye and know what's a deal and what's a recipe for disaster. While leaving early and expecting travel and delays is a good rule of thumb, there's so much more that goes into having a smooth trip home this holiday season. And nothing puts a damper on the Christmas spirit more than a missed flight, a lost bag or a total nervous breakdown. So let's try to avoid that while we can. Cheers to putting to bon in voyage this holiday season.

Don't Fly On Christmas

If you can avoid traveling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, do it. Save yourself the stress and travel a few days before and a few days after. The farther you get from the holiday, the more affordable your tickets will be and the more agreeable your journey will be.

Be Weary Of Super Cheap Tickets

Before you rush to purchase a cheap ticket, make sure you're reading all of the fine print. How many stops are there? How much time is in between the stops? What time is the flight? Could it possibly be overbooked? Check out every single detail before you jump on the offer.

Lean On Twitter

Twitter can be your guardian angel when dealing with airports. If you're having an issue with your airline, tweet at them. Most airlines are extremely responsive and helpful on Twitter — yes, we are living in a world where you'll faster switch out a flight over Twitter than over the phone. Embrace it!

Look Into Alternative Airports

Sometimes an alternative airport that's smaller or slightly out of the way is a lot cheaper. Do your research before you commit to an alternative airport, if you save $100 on a flight by choosing it, but then need to spend $200 on a cab to get to where you're going because it's out of the way, it's not worth it. Also, if it's an extra small airport, there might be a greater chance that your flight will be cancelled, so weigh your risks.

Pack Light

Though you might be tempted to pack all of your best holiday outfits, try to fit everything you need into a carryon. Wear all of your heaviest sweaters and coats on your flight to leave space in your bags, and rest assured that if you need to run down a terminal to catch a flight, you'll be able to book it without being weighed down by your luggage.

Ship Your Gifts

Instead of trying to fit gifts in your luggage, ship them ahead of time. This saves space for packing, lightens your load, and ensures that the gift gets to where it's going unscathed. Plus, it's just one less thing to worry about when you're packing!

Leave A Lot Of Extra Time For Mishaps & Delays

If you normally get to the airport two hours early, aim to get there three hours early. If you normally arrive to a train station 30 minutes before departure, get there an hour early. If it only takes you two hours to drive somewhere on a non-holiday, allot for four hours of traffic. With so many more people on the roads, on the rails and in the sky, there are bound to be delays and mishaps, but if you leave with enough time to spare, none of these issues will get in the way of your plans. Bring a book with you wherever you go and you'll enjoy the time you get to spend reading if you're early.

Bring A Portable Charger

There's always a chance that your flight will be delayed last minute, that you'll miss your connection or that your pickup ride is stuck in traffic. Assume that there's will be added time away from a plug and bring your own battery powered charger to avoid a major communication disaster.

Download A Meditation App

No matter how much you plan ahead, holiday travel is bound to be stressful. Though you can't control everything around you, you can control how you respond to it all, so download a meditation app like Insight Timer or Headspace and find some time to find your center. A few minutes of peace might give you the strength you need to deal with chaos ahead.